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  • Ameren Illinois accelerates natural gas investment

    By Joe Maty, St. Louis Business Journal, June 28, 2013 - In 2011, Ameren Illinois unveiled a $643 million plan to upgrade and modernize its electrical distribution system. Now the utility is charged up about its next big energy-system investment: acceleration of a blueprint to modernize natural-gas delivery.

     The utility, which serves 1.2 million electricity customers and 806,000 natural gas customers in Central and Southern Illinois, recently secured state legislative approval of a plan to accelerate a natural gas infrastructure upgrade program with an additional $330 million investment over 10 years.

     The natural gas plan shares some similarities with the company’s electrical expansion blueprint. In 2011, Ameren Illinois launched its Modernization Action Plan (MAP), a 10-year plan to improve the performance and reliability of its electricity delivery infrastructure.

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  • Illinois Legislature Approves Natural Gas Modernization Plan (SB 2266)

    May 28, 2013 - The Illinois Senate today approved legislation that will accelerate modernization of the state’s natural gas infrastructure and create 150 new jobs in Central and Southern Illinois. Under the Natural Gas Consumer, Safety & Reliability Act (SB 2266), Ameren Illinois will invest an additional $330 million over 10 years to strengthen the integrity, safety, and reliability of the natural gas delivery system. Under the plan, a typical Ameren Illinois residential natural gas customer using 785 therms annually would pay about a penny a day more for gas delivery services over the ten year period.

    The plan now heads to Governor Quinn’s desk for final approval.
     
    “I want to thank Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Mike Madigan and members of the General Assembly for recognizing the need for long-term investment in the safety and reliability of our natural gas infrastructure,” said Richard Mark, president and CEO, Ameren Illinois.

    “I especially want to thank State Rep. Brandon Phelps and State Sen. David Koehler for their leadership on this bill,” Mark continued. “This plan enhances our ability to meet the current and future needs of our gas customers while creating 150 good-paying jobs and maintaining strong consumer protections. It is a win for Illinois customers, businesses and labor—especially here in Central and Southern Illinois.”

    Ameren Illinois maintains approximately 1,250 miles of natural gas transmission lines and nearly 17,000 miles of delivery lines that feed service to more than 806,000 Illinois customers within a 43,700 square-mile territory in Central and Southern Illinois.

    The plan provides increased customer benefits and enhances safety and reliability by accelerating upgrades to the system’s transmission, distribution and technology.
     
    The legislation requires Ameren Illinois to file an annual plan with the ICC and report on progress in achieving performance improvements such as decreasing the time to respond to gas emergency calls and preventing damages caused by utility or contractor error.

    Strong oversight, review and consumer protections and benefits are included in the legislation. Under the bill, Ameren Illinois will make incremental investments in the gas delivery infrastructure through a rider that is regularly and transparently reviewed by the ICC. A typical Ameren Illinois residential natural gas customer using 785 therms annually would pay about a penny a day more for gas delivery services over the ten year period. As a safeguard for customers, the legislation places a 4% annual average cap on increases to the delivery portion of the customer bill.

    The legislation brings Illinois in alignment with 28 other states (including IN, MO, IA, KY, MI, OH and PA) that have already recognized the need for a timely cost recovery mechanism as a way to support and encourage capital investment in aging energy infrastructure.

     “The Natural Gas Consumer, Safety & Reliability Act is as important to growing the Central and Southern Illinois economy as upgrading our roads, bridges, airports, and water systems,” said Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “Residents, small business owners and local governments will pay more tomorrow if we defer our obligations to invest in our infrastructure today.”

    “The Natural Gas Consumer, Safety & Reliability Act has broad support from Illinois business and labor leaders who see the potential of this plan to put Illinois on a path towards progress,” Mark said. “I urge Governor Quinn to show he is serious about moving the Illinois economy forward by signing this bill.”
     
    “Hundreds of dedicated men and women work hard every day to maintain a safe, reliable natural gas delivery system that millions of central and southern Illinoisans rely on every day at work, school and home,” said Don Degonia, Business Manager of Plumbers and Fitters Local 360. “The Natural Gas Consumer, Safety & Reliability Act will enable us to more efficiently make needed upgrades and enhancements to the system to the benefit of customers and local economies.”

    Organizations supporting SB 2266 include: Illinois AFL-CIO, Chicago Federation of Labor, CISCO (Construction Industry Service Corporation), Construction & Laborers' District Council of Chicago and Vicinity, Gas Workers Union Local 18007, IBEW Local 51, IBEW Local 309, IBEW Local 649, IBEW Local 702, IBEW Local 1455, Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Midwest Region, LIUNA Local 100, LIUNA Local 459, LIUNA Twelve Counties Southwestern Illinois District Council, Operating Engineers Local 150, Pipefitters Local 597, Plumbers & Fitters Local 101, Plumbers & Fitters Local 360, Teamsters Local 786, Utility Workers Union of America, West Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council, Arcadis US, EN Engineering, First Choice Landscaping, Guardian Security Services, HBK Engineering, LLC, Henkels & McCoy, Inc., Hispanic American Construction Industry Association, Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Business Roundtable, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Energy Association, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, InfraSource Services, LLC., INTREN, Inc., Jacobs Engineering Group, J.F. Electric, Inc., KS Energy Services, LLC, Meade/Contracting & Material Co., NPL, Palatine Oil Company, Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas, Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Illinois, Quanta Services, Inc., Rabine Paving, and The Pacific Company.

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